Ann Marie McKeon, Drumna, Cloone was convicted of knowingly or willfully delivering incorrect returns in connection with VAT and sentenced to two years in prison when she appeared before Carrick-on-Shannon Circuit Court in relation to revenue offences in which she claimed VAT returns which were over-claimed by €129,000.
Ms McKeon pleaded guilty to 11 counts of delivering false vat returns out of a total of 86 similar counts which spanned a four year period from 2008-2012.
Judge John Aylmer heard returns submitted by Ms McKeon for September/October 2012 were initially selected for verification.
Invoices were requested from Ms McKeon, Assumpta Mangan, Authorised Officer of the Revenue Commissioner told the court.
When these were not forthcoming the verification process was upgraded to an audit.
The court heard a total of €133,121 had been claimed in the period 2008-2012.
Ms Mangan said the revised amount totalled €5,000.
Ms Mangan said she conducted a search of Ms McKeon’s residence and interviewed her under caution.
“She maintained throughout she could claim VAT back on all purchases because she was VAT registered. She also claimed expenses on household expenses,” said Ms Mangan.
Ms Mangan added an agent for Ms McKeon “reduced the VAT claim substantially.”
In relation to the documents supplied during the audit Ms Mangan said: “Most didn’t relate to Ms McKeon, they related to her husband’s business. She couldn’t explain how they got there and effectively blamed the agent.”
Ms McKeon maintained she carried out work for Lough Rynn Hotel but a statement provided by the hotel’s management company confirmed she did not provide cleaning services.
Mulleady Properties confirmed there were payments made by Mulleady's but they were related to work carried out by her husband, not by Ms McKeon.
Ms Mangan conveyed details of an interview with Ms McKeon’s agent saying: “Basically he said she filed for 2008 and he did for 2009-2012 on the basis of figures supplied by phone on a bi-monthly basis.
“She didn’t provide evidence of figures but when an audit was initiated he was supplied with invoices and formed the opinion the VAT returns were overstated and were revised down from €5,000 to €3,371.”
When asked by Judge John Aylmer if the defendant acknowledged any wrongdoing, Ms Mangan answered: “No, she said she took the advice of her agent.”
The court heard the outstanding amount owed, including interest and penalties stands at €384,328.
Under cross-examination from Christopher Meehan BL, Ms Mangan was asked if she found the defendant co-operative. In reply she said: “She answered the questions. I can’t say they were answered truthfully.”
Outlining the defendant’s circumstances Mr Meehan said: “There has been a considerable passage of time since the offences were committed. She has not come to unfavourable notice of gardaí or Revenue.
“The fact that Cloone is a small community adds to the shame and embarrassment.”
Character references from the parish priest in Gortletteragh and a former District Court clerk were handed into court.
Mr Meehan added: “It is nothing more than a token gesture but she is prepared to pay €25 a week. It would take several lifetimes to make any significant dent in the debt alone, never mind the interest and penalties.”
Judge Aylmer ruled as outlined.